Total War: Arena Preview | MOUSE n JOYPAD

Total War: Arena Preview



The Total War Series has always been a hit or miss for me. I have played some of the older games like Total War: Rome or Total War: Medieval II but vaguely touched up on Total War: Shogun 2 or Total War: ATTILLA. I remember hardly showing any interest with Total War: Medieval II – apart from the immense battles – because of the intense amount of political standpoints and negotiations. Total War series was not my cup of tea… until now.Â

Total War: Arena will be a new Free To Play –yes you read that right – focused only on the battles themselves and not involving political conflicts. In this 10v10 RTS genre you will be able to choose between eight different Commanders to lead an army into battle through a series of semi-short skirmish matches. The Commanders are Julius Caesar, Germanicus, Scipio Africanus, Alexander the Great, Leonidas, Militiades, Arminius, and Vercingetorix. Each leader is given a special unit(s) to be upgraded through either the barracks tab or the army tab.

The barracks tab will list a variety of upgradable weapons and armor purchased within the game using currency or either won/lost through matches or using real money, aka gold coins. The colour of the armor may be altered to fit the criteria of your personal choice. The army tab can be overwhelming upon first glance due to the massive talent-like tree it portrays. Don’t be alarmed. After highlighting some of the tabs on the tree, each sub-tab is a specification you can use to improve how effective your soldiers will be in combat.

Carefully leafing through and researching each Commander I decided to try out Julius Caesar. Before the match started, a full view of the level map was shown with 12 markers on the team I was on. The markers purpose are the starting point to command my troops from, but only one Commander can be stationed on any one marker. My first game was a total annihilation. First matches usually are but, holy hell!. The feeling reminded me of World War II stories about storming the beaches from Project Omaha.

The controls were the same – from what I could recall – of the Total War series. At the launch of the match I received three units of roman troops: two swordsmen and one archer unit. Every teammate (including myself) could receive a handful of units ranging from 3 to 10 – depending on ranks. Regrettably, I was the lowest rank and had three units. Simply clicking on a unit will grant control over the specific soldier. If I were to select all my units I would right click and hold dragging across the area where my troops were. That’s it, simple eh!.

Now the mechanics and environment are what tied Total War: Arena turning the game into a intense Massively Multiplayer Online RTS experience. I had teammates who had their own troops to control; sadly because of the lack of communication our strategic moves concaved into a bloody heap of bent metal and lifeless corpses. The first mistake I overlooked was the terrain,tiles each have strengths and weaknesses when charging into battle. For example, if I was to charge my swordsmen down the line in open terrain taking neutral damage from both ends. If I were to take the remainder of my soldiers into the forest to flank the enemy from behind but the foliage would slightly slow my troops down but provide coverage from being discovered in plain view. Flanking from a certain point and pinning the opponent between two tropes of swords will cause not only the health of the enemy but morale to fall.

If the morale bar were to go out then the troops would either flee back to base or worse… disbandment. Once a unit was lost they would never respond again. All my troops died instantly due to my poor judgment and adept strategic maneuverability. I was forced to either watch the rest of the match or quit and join a new match under a new leader. A previously played Commander can only be used again if either the match was over or won/defeated. Under no circumstances was the Commander able to be reselected.

Four hours in I decided to choose a more viable and reliable Commander whose army can withstand a beating. Ultimately, I succumbed to Germanicus and his heavy armor and attack. Jumping back into the action I ended up landing more victories than defeats. The strategy can easily be figured out from capturing the other team’s base. Every match has a fog of war, meaning no one can see certain areas of the map and must have troops in visual range in order to show the area. Capturing the main base was the biggest cause behind these matches ending so swiftly. Fog will cover both bases making it a requirement to have at least one unit hang back and watch for enemy units sneaking in. In the end no matter if I won or lost I was still granted with a certain amount of coins and experience toward upgrades for my army.

Total War: Arena has won me over with the shear simplicity of a free to play multiplayer game by removing the political and critical thinking of a careful built and placed civilization. Using only the battle system and having complete control over customization when setting up troops for an ultimate battle. Team effort was key to victory and with smooth controls along with endless battles it will definitely make me continue playing in the near future. I must mention if others did enjoy the aspect of Total War: Arena’s political feature then it may not be for you.